Distinguished editor and educator Jerry Ceppos died on Friday from an illness. He was 75 years old.
Ceppos was the former vice president of news at Knight Ridder and the editor and senior vice president of The San Jose Mercury News. Ceppos has also made its mark in journalism education. He served as dean of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada in Reno and was named dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University in 2011.
According to reports, his wife, Karen Ceppos, said her husband died of sepsis following a serious infection.
Jerry Ceppos could claim he grew up as an editor. He edited his high school paper and also edited his college paper at the University of Maryland. After graduating, he worked as a journalist and editor at Rochester Democrat and New York Chronicle. Three years later, he took a job as an editor at the Miami Herald, which began his long relationship with what would become Knight Ridder newspapers.
As vice president of news at Knight Ridder, Ceppos oversaw the nation’s second-largest newspaper publisher at the time. Besides the Mercury News, the group included the Miami Herald, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Detroit Free Press, the Charlotte Observer, the Kansas City Star and 26 other daily newspapers.
Ceppos had the strange distinction of receiving the Society of Professional Journalists’ inaugural Journalism Ethics Award for acknowledging flaws in the reporting process behind a series of Mercury News investigations.
The Mercury News story about Ceppos includes this passage:
In a journalist career of more than 50 years, Jerry Ceppos led The Mercury News when California’s Silicon Valley was exploding in innovation, including the birth of digital media that would ultimately undermine the traditional newspaper industry. As an editor and later educator, he focused on new technology and its reshaping of society. He also championed diversity in the newsroom and the classroom.
“Jerry Ceppos was a wonderful journalist – talented, principled, industrious, committed to accuracy and fairness,” said Larry Jinks, former publisher of The Mercury News.
The paper won two Pulitzer Prizes while Ceppos served as editor.
The Mercury News added: “Ceppos will be buried in Miami at a private family service. A public celebration of his life will take place later. Friends are invited to contribute to the Manship School or charity of their choice.